SEO – Search engine optimization is not something you can do once and forget about.  Google (and other search engines) are continually updating their algorithms.

What is the Google Algorithm and Why Do They Update It?

The Google algorithm is an award-winning mathematical formula which helps translate what you’re searching for into computer language resulting in relevant answers. This formula determines what content is displayed on page one of a search.  While Google does not share all the elements, there are always companies looking to “game the system” and take advantage of loopholes, so Google regularly updates its math to weed out any cheating.

Instead of numbers, Google updates are named after animals or inanimate objects such as Panda, Penguin, Caffeine and most recently Hummingbird.

What you need to know

There’s an avalanche of technical search engine jargon barreling towards your company’s content in 2014. It’s time to buckle down, pour a tall cup of coffee, and get familiar with buzzwords like Hummingbird, semantic search, and context matching queries. Don’t be afraid- we’re here to help.

The search engine overlords have set a brand new series of fixes and hurdles to overcome this business season. It’s our job here at Roundpeg to help you navigate the ever changing digital landscape while promoting top-quality content creation.

Here’s our primer on search engine optimization changes in 2014:

Hummingbird is the Word

2013 was a big year for search engine optimization. Content creators saw the steady incline of search traffic returning to their webpages after a year weathering Google algorithm updates. Google also celebrated its 15th anniversary, promising to deliver newer, faster, more accurate searching than ever before on mobile phones and desktops.

Hummingbird- Google’s latest and greatest update- was released to virtually zero fanfare at the end of August. Google officially announced it as an update to their system in September, but the reception was lukewarm.

Semantic Search and Your Audience

Google declared Hummingbird the most important update to its search algorithm since the release of Caffeine in 2010, which promised to expand relevant search results on obscure terms. Hummingbird is considered an “evolution in search” rather than an Internet-wide revolution. Overall, it should more accurately provide search results and raise visibility for websites and businesses across the board.

The goal of Hummingbird is to promote and integrate what strategists are calling “semantic search.”

Semantic search is the technical term for the math which helps identify context clues in what you put into the Google Search Bar.  The end goals is to serve up a larger, more accurate set of results so users will continue to rely on Google for the answers to their questions.

“Conversational search queries” will play the largest moving part in search and the Hummingbird equation in 2014. Google’s research shows more and more users are searching on mobile devices using voice commands. These searches are structured much like questions posed in regular human communication. Instead of a traditional search like “local pet adoption,” users are now submitting questions more similar to “Where can I go to adopt a pet locally?”

Hummingbird is here to match the context of these specific questions to a more accurate cluster of related web pages.

What Does It Mean For My Content?

The answer is two-fold:

First, it’s time to move away from super niche content. This does not mean your topics can’t be narrow- it means you can no longer get away with squeezing the highest quality search results out of the most obscure web searches by building landing pages with sparse or irrelevant content (less than 200 words).  If you want to focus on a niche topic, give the reader and search engines something to chew on.  500+ words is a good baseline.

Second- Hummingbird isn’t all bad news. If you have been writing high quality content about interesting topics, you are home safe. In fact, your pages are much more likely to be found now than ever before if you are an authority on your topics and your content remains relevant.

We hope you’re ready to tackle the latest changes in search after reading this primer on semantics and the wake of Hummingbird!

Keep creating awesome content that people want to read- you’ll be well rewarded.

photo credit: Rick Derevan via photopin cc